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“Keeping Score with a Different Scorecard”

Last year, my daughter took health class in her public school in the 9th grade. She had to begin the semester by writing an essay assessing her health. She asked me to review what she wrote.

The assignment required that she assess herself according to the “Six Types of Health,” those being:

  1. Emotional
  2. Environmental
  3. Mental
  4. Physical
  5. Social
  6. Spiritual

This list and the assignment of assessing yourself with it took me aback. I don’t put much weight into these types of school exercises and classes; I’m much more interested in her learning chemistry and math and world history there. I love the numbered lists and study guides she brings home in those classes.

And here was a nice, neat numbered list … about life.

And here was my beautiful 15 year old daughter’s intelligent, measured assessment of herself in all these areas with real do-able action items for each.

My first thought was, “They need to get all the parents into this class STAT. Starting with me.”

These days, so much of everything in life seems to be about financial health, but that’s not on this list. Worrying about and working towards financial health makes you forget about many of these other areas of your life. And yet, financial health won’t make all the parts of your life work. Far from it, in fact, just based on personal observation and tabloid headlines. That’s not to say you should ignore your financial health. If you are destitute and stressed, it’s tough to keep the other areas of your health going strong.

But money isn’t everything. In fact, there are many things on this very list that money can’t buy.

Not only can I assess myself with this scorecard, I can set goals as well. When was the last time you set an emotional goal for yourself? What a wonderful idea!

I’ve said for years that I’m “keeping score with a different scorecard” but I didn’t really have one. Now I do.

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News of 38,000 Wild Horses Roaming the West is Thrilling! (mostly)

In 1988, my husband Jim and I quit our jobs in New York City, bought a car, and started driving across America bound for LA. We knew we were taking the Northern route through South Dakota and Wyoming, and we knew we would be dropping in on my parents in Cleveland and Jim’s mom in Park City, but we didn’t know much else. We stopped for the night where and when we wanted to. We lingered where we chose. We raised a glass with bonafide cowboys in a tiny Dakotas bar. A lightening storm over the Badlands was breathtaking. Around every corner was a vista or an experience that was larger than life and touched me to the core.
And that is how I discovered The American West. We traveled through it just like the pioneers did. We were homeless and jobless just like them, heading west in search of a better life, with our calico cat Trixie in tow. The land was magical. I fell in love.
But enough about me. This is about wild horses, and the article I read about them in today’s Wall Street Journal:
Wall Street Journal – January 3, 2012
There are 38,000 Wild Horses running free in the West today. Isn’t that magnificent? This news caused me to experience giddy elation. We haven’t screwed things up that badly with overbuilding and suburban sprawl if there are still that many horses roaming across millions of acres of federal land in Wyoming, Utah, Oregon and California. And the article said the “wild horse population is out of control” because “the herds can double in size every four years.” So these are healthy herds too! Even better. The romantic in me was thrilled.
I read that federal law “protects mustangs as “living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West.” Happy!
But wait … There are more of them than the land can support and they are trampling streams and stripping vegetation and destroying habitats of other animals. Saddish.
And the government has already rounded up 45,000 of them and is holding them in captivity trying to adopt them out to ranchers in the Midwest and South. They are referred to as “a herd of unwanted horses.” Super sad.
And the reason this article is in the newspaper in the first place is because the Bureau of Land Management has a new plan to castrate 200 of the stallions to reduce the growth of the herd, because the contraceptive vaccines they have been giving to the mares since 2004 are expensive and not effective. There are so many levels of sadness in the prior sentence, I don’t know where to begin.
There’s just nothing easy about progress, is there? Somebody’s got to make some tough decisions.
Somebody is a federal court judge hearing arguments from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and animal activist groups like The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign.
I don’t know what the answer is. I’m glad we live in a place that lets divergent voices be heard in figuring out issues like this. May wisdom, vision, compassion and cooperation prevail.
Mostly I’m just happy to hear they’re still out there. Feels like hope for humanity, doesn’t it? Or at least hope for America? Both good things, by the way.

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To Soy or Not to Soy?

Or … Sometimes the More You Find Out, the Less You Really Know

For years I have been under the impression that switching to soy products was a good thing to do for your health. Soy milk instead of cow’s milk. Tofu instead of meat. Edamame instead of peas. Actually I didn’t realize that edamame, tofu and miso were made of soy beans until the day before yesterday, but that doesn’t change the fact that I thought these foods were for the super-healthy and health-conscious.

Then the other day, I was talking soy beans with a super-knowledgeable, food-informed young friend. Or rather, she was talking and I was listening. My friend and her family have been paying attention to healthy eating matters and practicing healthy eating for many years. Food is her “thing.” She is paying attention. Here’s what she said:

In their raw state, soy beans are toxic to humans.

Hold the phone! Even I know this is a HUGE clue right there. If it’s not good for you raw, why would it be good for you cooked? According to Wikipedia:

For human consumption, soybeans must be cooked with “wet” heat to destroy the trypsin inhibitors (serine protease inhibitors). Raw soybeans, including the immature green form, are toxic to humans, swine, chickens, and in fact, all monogastric animals.

My friend also said:

While soy products are a great source of protein, they may have other impacts on your body beyond nutrition because of a plant compound in soy beans that mimics estrogen.

In areas where soy products, especially soy milk, are in widespread use, the population’s hormones are being affected, including girls beginning to have their periods as young as nine years old.

Consuming large amounts of soy products increases infertility.

Wow! According to this article in the December 9, 2009 issue of Scientific American Magazine, it’s all true and more:

Could Eating Too Much Soy Be Bad for You?
New studies suggest that eating large amounts of soy’s estrogen-mimicking compounds might reduce fertility in women, trigger early puberty and disrupt development of fetuses and children
By Lindsey Konkel and Environmental Health News | November 3, 2009

This brief foray into soy beans has led me to these unsatisfactory conclusions:

  1. The internet is making us stupid. Well, it’s making me stupid anyway. It is THE source of information, and whoever has the best SEO wins, instead of whoever has the best facts and credibility. Google, can you please get to work on that?
  2. We need better, objective, conclusive scientific research. There are conclusive answers, they just seem to elude us for now. Maybe that’s where all those brilliant math and science students would be helpful. How many research studies did it take to reach universal agreement that radioactivity was bad for your health? Were there any studies which claimed otherwise?
  3. Do we need soy? Is it possible to feed all the people on this planet without soy?
  4. Lastly and most importantly: “Everything in moderation” emerges once again as the best advice. Consume soy in moderation. Of course, that doesn’t help all the babies drinking soy infant formula all day. Or the kids eating soy in their hamburger meat at school every day. Soy is probably in all kinds of products that we don’t even know about. How can you exercise moderation in your soy intake if you don’t even realize you’re consuming soy? Make it a point to pay attention to how much soy you’re actually consuming.

Now you know why I typically let this kind of stuff go in one ear and out the other. I am left suspicious of soy products but without any iron-clad proof. It’s like all the conspiracy theories of the world: Something about them rings true, but it all doesn’t add up in the end. So you file it away in your brain’s X-FILES area and hope to find an answer some day. “The Truth is Out There.” “Trust No One.”

And I thought being an EnviroSeeker was going to be easy.

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